LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Police Department received a 60-day extension Tuesday for an internal affairs investigation focusing on 15 officers and leaked confidential documents.
Chief Jim Craft appeared before the Lafayette Fire and Police Civil Service Board on Tuesday morning to request the extension. The chief said the investigation into the leak began May 11 and was set to end July 15 because of a 60-day limit on internal affairs investigations.
Craft said the investigation has faced delays because of legal proceedings sought by several officers targeted in the investigation.
The investigation is trying to determine whether the officers leaked documents to an attorney who was representing another officer. The motive for the alleged leaks has not been made clear.
Five officers initially filed a temporary restraining order in state District Court seeking to stop the department from conducting the investigation, alleging, among other things, that the investigation unfairly targeted the officers and violated portions of the Policeman’s Bill of Rights.
A judge later dissolved the temporary restraining order. In response, the officers joined with four other current and former officers in a federal lawsuit filed last week that alleges cover-ups, favoritism and disparate discipline policies within the department.
One of the officers involved in both the suit and the investigation is Scott Poiencot, who sits on the Civil Service Board.
Poiencot abstained Tuesday from voting on the chief’s request for the extension, citing his involvement in the investigation.
However, Poiencot declined to recuse himself from a separate but related matter before the board involving Cpl. Ed McLean, a Lafayette police officer who was fired March 9, 2011, over alleged violations of the department’s general conduct policies, attention-to-duty responsibilities and sexual misconduct.
Poiencot said he would not recuse himself, “since I’ve done nothing wrong in regards to this case,” adding he did not provide McLean’s attorney, Olita Magee, with the document used during the earlier proceedings.
Fellow board members also said they did not have any authority to remove Poiencot from the proceedings.
The city filed a lawsuit seeking to remove Poiencot from his post on the board, which he was elected to last year by Police Department employees.
The city-parish administration is asking for Poiencot’s removal from the board because of his alleged involvement in the website http://www.realcopsvcraft.com and for allegedly secretly recording conversations with other officers since 2006.
Before addressing McLean’s termination, the board took up an issue regarding whether the city complied with the 60-day rule governing internal affairs investigations when it terminated McLean.
The board ruled 3-2 that the city did comply with the rule.
Magee advised the board she would be appealing the decision, along with two other issues that have arisen during her client’s appeal, to the 15th Judicial District Court.
McLean’s termination letter cites his use of a department-issued Segway to travel to meet with a woman who claimed in a complaint filed with the Police Department that the two had sex while McLean was on patrol duty downtown.